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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  December 23, 2012 11:00am-12:00pm EST

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people running in to complain to the publisher and the stories all through the years. they're lucky for almost all their careers to work with people who are really strong and upright in that area and let the chips fall where they may. >> x, evan thomas recounts the tenure of america's 34th resident, dwight eisenhower. he's introduced by susan eisenhower, granddaughter at the eisenhower institute in washington d.c. this is about 50 minutes.
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[applause] >> what an honor and treat to be at the eisenhower institute and especially an honor to have susan introduced me. you know, families can be a little touchy about the great man and their family, but the eisenhower's were amazing with me. john, susan, david are completely open, not defensive, which is unusual. incredibly helpful and i could not have done this book without them. so thank you, susan. six weeks after dwight eisenhower became president, stalin died. paik caught together top advisers and officials in that, what's the plan? .. is
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>> little bit like colonel sanders of kentucky fried chicken. was clearly a figure. ike was rooting for the general, the head of the red army was ike's ally in defeating the nazis in world war ii. eisenhower sent his son john out to do a little spying. john seidel up to him. things are not as they seem. president eisenhower did not find out who was really in
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charge until the fifth day of the conference, when ike proposed what he called his opened scottish plan. the big fear in those early days of the nuclear age was a surprise attack. so ike proposed that each country on the other countries to fly over head to take any preparation of an attack. the soviet delegation initially seemed like the idea, but at a reception afterwards a short round man came straight towards president eisenhower, saying no, no, no. it was nikita khrushchev, the general secretary of the communist party. open skies is just a chance the americans to peer into the russian bedrooms. british foreign secretary harold mcmillan wrote was jeff is a mischief. how can this that man with his big eyes and lips flow of talk
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really be ahead, the bizarre of all these millions of people of this vast country? khrushchev seemed to be equal parts bluster and insecure. to his son, sergei, he was worried he was not properly dressed for dinner at the summit, and the plane he flew into geneva was smaller than the planes of the western leader. chris job like to brag and threaten. he like to wag his finger at the west saying we will bury you. he wanted to test the west. the testing price, flashpoint was berlin, the former german capital, over 100 miles inside time in his east germany but was still a free city protected by the western powers. in november 1958, khrushchev delivered an ultimatum. the west had to be out of berlin and six months, or else. this is a crisis, the greatest
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crisis of the cold war up to that point. the press, congress and much of the eisenhower administration this men were. we need to show resolve, it was said, to beef up our troop strength and get ready to divide the red army. meeting privately with his advisers and congressional leaders, president eisenhower said we aren't going to do that. indeed he said we're cutting our forces in germany by 50,000. is advisors and accounting were bewildered. cut our troop strength? won't that show went to this -- won't that show weakness? i was all alone. he was heavily criticized in the press. but he is seen utterly unfazed. i've now had a great capacity to take responsibility. the amazing that famous photograph taken of ike on the eve of d-day, june 1944, general eisenhower as a supreme allied commander wearing his uniform and talking to a group of paratroopers who were all geared
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up, their faces blackened ready to jump behind enemy lines. ike had come to see these men because he'd been told they were not likely to come back. the airborne assaulted, d-day was reckoned of his 70% of its and. ike wanted to look these men in the high before sending them to their fates. in his jacket pocket he written a note that if the landings failed, the responsibility was his alone. eisenhower was a very confident man, and i'm sure he had a huge ego, but he had a good kind of confidence you don't always see today, the competence to be humble. indeed on occasion you going to act up. as president in march 1955 he was about to go into the press conference during a crisis with red china, and his aides were warning him to be careful about what he said. don't worry, i'll just confuse them. he did. ike often have bad syntax. i noticed in his private letters and memos were clear as a bell.
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ike was smiling, congenial but also tough. as vice president richard nixon once wrote that he was a more complex and devious man than people realized. quote i'm and devious in the vastness of the word, added nixon. i was talking to eisenhower's son, john, his dad, about the apparent balance between the sunny congenial ike and the cold-bloocold-bloo ded ike. john smiled for a moment and said make that a 75% cold-blooded. when ike was elected president, military, the top brass were hopeful that the former general could be counted on to spend more on weapons and the military. in fact, ike reduce military spending. he was always wary of the military heightening and the needs for weapon and mean. when he saw the pentagon estimate that the red army could overrun europe in two weeks, he wrote in the margin, i doubt. it took us three months just to take this on. when the spending request came in, ike would say i know those
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boys down at the pentagon. ike believed the real national security came from a sound economy. he was a deficit hawk. he controlled government spending and package. his famous speech warning against military-industrial complex came at the end of his presidency but, in fact, he been working on it all a long. mostly behind the scenes. heaven help us, he liked to say, that we'll get a president who knows less about the military than i do. this approach to the military was not just about the economy. in the berlin crisis in 58-59 and in early crisis with korea and vietnam in 1953, 54, the almost straight, the suez crisis in 1956, eisenhower was playing a bigger game for higher stakes. a west point cadet and a young army officer, ike had been a great poker player. indeed, he was so good that he had to give it up.
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he was taking too much money from his fellow officers and it was hurting his career. he switched to bridge, but he never forgot how to block it with the soviets he bluffed with nuclear weapons. as only a real warrior can, ike hated war. seriously, the great war hero had never been in combat. in world war i had been stateside training troops to his great chagrin, and by world war ii he was too valuable and knew too much to risk getting killed or captured. but he knew war. he went to a lot of battlefields often while they still smell and he saw the carnage. after the war he flew in a small plane from berlin to moscow over the ukraine following the path of the german and the russian army where he saw not a single building left standing. he went to the concentration camps along with general patton who vomited when they found what they saw there. ike was changed when he came home. he was not particularly religious, but he was more
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spiritual. he wanted to be religious. insisted on starting cabinet meetings with a prayer that sometimes he would forge ahead with the agenda. john foster dulles would nudge them and ike would find jesus christ, we forgot the prayer. [laughter] >> eisenhower's experience was presenting thousands of young men to their deaths and ordering the bombings. made him want to avoid any war. there was a lot of talk in his time and since the fighting limited wars and gradual response from surgical strikes. ike wasn't having any of that. the was an all or nothing and. essential, his own experience means war is a mutating monster. small short wars have a way of turning into big long wars. and that politicians and statesmen who think they control war are kidding themselves. at the same time to ike was a pacifist. he believed that soviet communism was expansionist and
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it was easy to see why just by looking at the map. and i distended to comment. out in the way to do that is not by fighting small or limited or so-called rush fire wars, but by threatening to go all the way. what they called massive retaliation, all or nothing, shoot the works. this is what ike insisted on in berlin. the national security council he used a poker analogy. a note taker recorded thing in order to begin with a white chips and working up to the blue, we should place them on notice, the soviets, that our whole stack is in play. no slow escalation, rather the americans would hit the russians as hard as we could. the russians quote will have started the war, we will finish it. that's all the policy i have. he added, this is not going to be some nice sweet world war ii kind of war.
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eisenhower had great instinct. he usually refused to use the phone because he like to meet people face-to-face. with khrushchev he knew he had to meet him, take his measure, and make khrushchev a partner in of waiting were. issue i'd wrote in a smarter true friend in 1956 vote, it's not nearly man against man or nation against nation, it is man against war. in the summer of 1959 ike invited khrushchev to the united states. he took a khrushchev on helicopter flight over the washington suburbs to see all that housing and cars. kirchoff pretended to only see the rush-hour traffic jams. he asked if he could buy three helicopters an and a boeing 737. crucial also got to meet marilyn monroe. ike invited khrushchev to camp david. what is this camp david, khrushchev asked? he was suspicious one if the
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americans me to some of kidnapping and. camp david he ranted. ike's top aide wrote and passed on a piece of paper. but ike took a nap. he had an idea. ike's farm was close by. he called his daughter in law and told her to have her kids all spruced up and on the porch of the farmhouse in 30 minutes. he brought khrushchev to meet them. ike's great insight about khrushchev was that he was a survivor. he survived stalin after robert the kremlin leaders were not early christian borders. they wanted to live. chris childs was charmed and warmed by ike's grandchildren. he had grandchildren, too. the next day after samore dickering he lifted his ultimatum on berlin. the crisis passed. of course, it was not the end of the cold war or the end of the crises. eisenhower was a great leader but he was not perfect. he made mistakes.
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one of them was trusting the cia too much. in may 1960 on the eve of a summit conference in paris, ike hopes was the beginning of the coup d'├ętat, the soviet union. the cia spy plane was shot down over russia. the cia had suppressed a study showing the soviet antiaircraft missiles can now climb high enough to reach the u2, atlanta ike to believe the pilot would never be captured into a dive on the plane broke up or killed himself with a suicide pill. the russians captured the pilot, powers, khrushchev bloated and credit of the wicked american spies. that was the and. eisenhower was very depressed. i want to resign, he said his faithful assistant, when he came into the oval office after powers was captured and his cover story blown. ike bounced back. he always did, but after nearly eight years of constant
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attention he was exhausted. ike threatened to use nuclear weapons. he never told anyone whether he actually would use them. he could not, of course or his threat would no longer be credible. talk about the loneliness. ike me all about the burden, from the north african campaign in 1943 to d-day to the conquest of germany, and the liberation of europe. ike smoke four packs a day as a general. he quit cold turkey in 1949. i gave myself in order to quit, he said. ike was pretty beat up, he had a major heart attack in 1955. a small stroke in 1957. the doctors worked about as high blood pressure were always ordering him to worry less. just what do they think this job is, he said? he tried to relax by playing golf. he played 800 times as president, a record. the golf may be the wrong game
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for perfectionist. ike can be pretty grim on the course and he wants to a chipping wedge at his doctor. ike had a huge temper which he kept hidden from the public but not his aides. his mother was a fundamentalist like to quote the bible and she would say to him, he that congress is old so is he -- ike would say his mother taught him how to control his temper. one of his aides said i thought what a poor job she had done. [laughter] when he was mad he was like a furnace. ike had trouble speaking and -- sleeping. at the end he was taking a drink or two. he was worn out at the end. kennedy people make the most of the contrast. the image stuck.
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scholars have known for his third here's years the trendy was a clever president behind the scenes. but most people still think of ike as a congenial grandfatherly president. he was, in fact, a great president. 1950s were time of peace and prosperity. after ike got us out of korea in 1953, by threatening to use nuclear weapons, he never sent another american soldier in combat over the next eight years. after the 1950s simla born in russia's biggest partly because ike made them that way. ike was a proud man but is also modest. when he was asked how we want to become memorials, he said just to let them put me on a horse. but he was proud that in his time america was strong and at peace. by god, he wants it, it didn't just happen. thank you very much. [applause] >> him happy to take some questions.
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>> i found this little 50-cent paperback book in our neighborhood. fascinating book what ike did leading up to the invasion of europe in 1944. for example, he talked about at the time they call them v-2 bombers. now i guess we would call the missiles. and less than one month with 1 million troops in europe. within less than one month, this is his thing, three years after the invasion, we had 171,532 vehicles in europe. can you imagine the preparation of all this?
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and i was wondering as a question, do you think he had any of this devious our kind of, he impose on marshall and fdr to get this kind of action in place because i don't think you bluffed marshall. but, of course, he was a good politician. he was a great politician. his approval rating as president was 65%. a number that modern politicians would kill for. and he was very good, and the way he did it, hardly the first to discover that, he had a great gift of being underestimated. he knew how useful was to be underestimated. and so montgomery had swung around and churchill would bluster and general patton could be general patton. eisenhower kept his steady shield because he was the guy in charge. he let other people have the going to let other people blow off steam, but at the end of the day he was running the show.
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he was marvelous and. as you say, imagine the scale of what he had to deal with. of course, nothing prepares you to be president. nothing does. but the liberation of europe is not a bad preparation, and on his first night in office he writes in a diary, funny of trouble and challenges ahead, but in a way it feels like a continuation of what i've been doing since 1941, even before. he was unfazed by the job. he was profoundly affected to have a job, of course, but he was ready for anything. this idea of quiet confidence they keep coming back, it hurt him historically. he didn't really bust the record. when the kennedys, one of the great hatchet jobs of all time on arthur schlesinger and others, setting up the contrast between the glamorous vigorous jfk and old grandfatherly ike. ike didn't really fight that. you know, in a way he didn't need to.
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i'm sure he wanted to be remembered by history and is being remembered. in fact, i would say his place in history is getting better and better. on the third book this year about eisenhower. but, you know, he knew himself, and he didn't have to show off. this is a great quality and leadership. >> i'm curious after reflections on eisenhower and the cia, he points to the to dulles brothe brothers. [inaudible] the bay of pigs -- >> a lot of activity. >> a lot of activity. at the end he tells allen dulles, is this a judgment he makes at the end of his eight years, or -- >> the legacy of ashes quote was about a see a problem. directed at the cia.
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but it is true that -- eisenhower because he did not want to fight conventional nuclear war but did want to send to communism was covert activity. use covert activity in world war ii. talk about bluffs. d-day. i think the germans that we are coming through another way. so he used deception. he used intelligence, ultra- codebreakers. and just as important he had a very high tolerance for mistakes in intelligence. he understood that intelligence is hard to do. you're going to make mistakes, covert action is hard. you going to make mistakes, so he had a hide -- he had a high tolerance for. perhaps too high. because initially the cia did have -- today, we don't feel all that great about those operations, but in 1953-54 it looked like we're getting with
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communism pretty cheaply and efficiently. he gave his cia a lot of roe. they started doing less well by, there's a failed coup in indonesia in 1958, a botched cue in syria i think and 57. and eisenhower's own advisers quietly start telling him the problems here, the father of the -- [inaudible] then like bob lovett and david bruce, smart guys. you've got a problem. and he says, you know, and you to get rid of dulles, allen does. his brother, john foster dulles, sector essay, a little harder to fire him, but more importantly, ike said it takes a strange kind of genius to run an intelligence service. and he's right about that. and allen dulles did have a strange kind of genius. so ike was reluctant to get rid of them.
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so he did. i think he regretted. susan's dad told me after the u2 got shut down he went to his father on the plane, the paris summit about to collapse her some, and said to him, dad, you should have fired back i. and ike blew up and basically said i'm the president and you're not. but it was little defensive about it because, yeah, he probably should have. these things are always clear in retrospect than they are at the time. ike was a great manager but he was arguably a little slow to get rid of people. he had no problem with sacking generals in world war ii, but maybe a little slow in his own administration in his second term. so this is one squishy area in his presidency. i spent a lot of time on. i would emphasize that one long state of intelligence, i'm an amateur at, but as president you
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think you can snap your finger and the cia does miraculous things. it just doesn't work that way. and eisenhower didn't understand it. he was reasonable about this. this is all highly relevant because right now i'm sure the united states is think about covert action on iran. i think the golden years of the cia are about to come back, because we don't want to attack iran, we don't want to bomb iran because they'll start a worker at an event with a iran to get a nuclear weapon. take those two things off the table, that doesn't leave much except covert action. stuxnet, however pronounce that, computer virus, apparently killing iranian scientists, think you'll see more of that. my own theory is obama looks so tired, not because of the campaign, not because he's ramping up a lot of covert action on iran, probably to get the israelis to pull it off.
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but that's for all this is going. and it takes a pretty steady hand at the helm to oversee intelligence. it's problematic. back there. >> as congress deals with sequestration with respect to defense policy, defense spending, what lessons can we find from the way eisenhower solving? >> well, i wish eisenhower were around to do with congress today because he could get into compromise. in his own party of opposition on the far right complete do without part by getting along with southern democrats. he would get along with this committee chairman and was able to talk to them. all the comedy that existed in his day just doesn't exist today. i mean, when bob was giving ike a tough time and blew up at a meeting, ike took and golfing.
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they became good buddies but when taft died, taft was a friend. you know, ike knew how to turn on his personal china. he had extraordinary warmth. yes, he was difficult but he had a warmth and he would use it. on congressman. that's a we need today because we've got to get a deal. no way we are going fast but i think were going over the cliff, fiscal cliff here, and it's going to be a big crisis and everybody will wring their hands and then hopefully we're going to get a deal, which is going to require raising taxes. republicans going to hate and cutting back entitlements and democrats like the. and it will require a complex. i wish dwight eisenhower here work to engineer that compromise. >> two quick questions. the first one is in response to something you said just a few minutes ago. i just came here from the vietnam memorial wall, and there are some names from 1959 picks i think those need to be noted at
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least in a footnote. this happening under president eisenhower's watch. >> that's true. >> the bigger question as with or spoken to or spoken, you've only or spoken to you for i'm about but have a chance to read it yet, so i don't know the depth to which you go in the u2 affair that's already been touched on, but i am mindful that -- 1986 study called mayday. >> a great book. >> the very end of the book, he accounts eisenhower writing his memoirs in 1954, calling up john mckeown, then director of the cia, st. john, can you remind me how that u2 plane came down? and he quotes, this quote either quotes or misquotes, telling him that the pilot, powers said he had a flameout, and he notes
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powers found this astonishing and said, i had neither an engine flameout nor did i radio back to the base. he closes his book with the riddle remains. >> i spent a lot of time chasing this. it remains somewhat of a mystery but i became convinced that what happened was that of sam ignited close enough to the plane to knock it into a spin, and i was always a little, there was a whole conspiracy theory that powers prematurely ejected, he was afraid the plane would blow up with him in it. as i'm chasing these theories, i don't think that's right. he couldn't hit -- he was unable to hit the button that you have
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to push to make a plain blow up because he was basically sucked out of the cockpit. [inaudible] >> out of control. i'm a non-conspiracy theorist but i usually think it's a mistake instead of a conspiracy. .. >> i just wondered why was this flight over central russia planned just before -- >> yeah. >> the summit conference? there's always been questions as to why they would do such a thing. >> yeah. why did they fly this u2 over
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russia on the eve of the summit conference? there was a debate about it, and john eisenhower told me, who was -- john eisenhower was major in the army who was general goodpastor's number two, the staff secretary's number two. he said his father had this feeling he was running out of missions. i think there had been 28 u2 missions occupy o -- up to this point, and ike had an uneasy feeling, but he didn't listen to it because everybody was for that flight. up in the northern part of russia, they wanted to look at that. there was this constant demand for both the cia and the air force to get a look at targets to see how this, how the russians were coming with icbms. there's still a debate over the missile gap at this time which is we now know a phony, but at the time we were trying to find
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out what a ground truth was. so every single one of ike's advisers said we should take this flight, notwithstanding the risk. but business el is the bad guy here, because richard bissell is head of covert operations in the cia. he's been given a report by the air force that says the sames, the soviet aircraft missiles, can now reach 65,000 feet, which is the height of the u 2, so the u 2,'s in ladies and gentlemen of getting knocked -- in danger of getting knocked down. eisenhower was not made aware of this essential piece of intelligence. i believe that he had, if he had seen that report, he would not have authorized flight. anybody else before -- i'll come back to you, but met me -- yeah. >> can you talk about what piqued your interest in eisenhower and also the period of time? was it your earlier work on intelligence? >> it was a lot of things. i was interested in the '50s
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generally because it's an interesting period. i grew up in the '50s, and i've been scared of nuclear war. i was a fearful kid. so that made me interested. what really got me going was i was having lunch with a journalist named john newhouse who was thinking of doing a book about the dulles brothers, and we started talking about that, and he started talking about andy goodpastor. and newhouse new goodpastor, and he would tell newhouse, you know, i don't think ike was ever going to use nuclear weapons, but he never talked about it. and i started thinking, boy, when you think about it, you know, there's the cliche the loneliness of command. holy smokes. here's the first guy in the history of man kind that had the power to destroy man kind, essentially. if everybody launches, at least the northern hemisphere is toast. that's a hell of a lot of responsibility, and he's running this bluff, basically.
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he doesn't want to fight conventional wars. but only he knows, only -- because, of course, he can't tell anybody. and now i got to thinking about this, and i was reading mac bundy's book about nuclear strategy, and there's a scene where dean acheson is summoned to see president kennedy. this is hater, 1961 -- this is later, and kennedy says, oh, my god, how do i know when to use nuclear weapons? and they turned to acheson thinking he's going to give them don't be afraid, and what eisenhower say ises is, mr. president, if i were you, i would think for a long time, and then i would tell no one. you can't tell anybody. that was fascinating to me. so that got me going. a very good book by a guy named campbell craig called "destroying the village" about ike's nuclear policy that was very helpful to me. there is some scholarship on all of this. i'm a popular journalist who
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stands on the shoulders of academics. i hardly discovered all this. i knew -- i was enough of a journalist to know there's a story here, so i pursued it. anybody else? sir. >> on the vietnam thing, it's my understanding that those two soldiers were killed by snipers, so ike would say nobody died in combat. >> yeah. i think wasn't there an explosion or something, a tent? something like that. yeah. i know they used, ike uses that statistic, nobody killed in combat. i believe somebody in lebanon also died in '56, maybe in an accident. some people call that. look, you can endlessly pick over these things, but the central point is ike did not send soldiers into combat for a long time. what other modern president can make that claim? >> sir? >> yeah. >> early in ike's administration
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in indochina, and i don't know if the book touches on this, there was a real move, i think, to of after -- [inaudible] may of '53, operation vulture was develop canned, i think, to go to war. >> right. >> bradford, i think bradford was our chairman of the joint chiefings. ike played a real, key role in that, didn't he not? >> admiral -- [inaudible] navy admiral who said during world war ii, what was his line? we learned to burn them scientifically, you know, was in favor of modern or warfare. and he wanted to use tactical nuclear weapons as did john foster dulles, as did richard nixon when the french were losing. they felt this was the time to use tactical nuclear weapons to sort of rescue the situation. ike listened to that, rejected that advice, never really tipped his hand what he was thinking.
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this is one of these moments when he had to decide because the french position was, obviously, precarious and losing. and ike made the decision, one, not to get involved, to send b troops in. he famously said the jungle will consume the army by divisions, so he did not want to put in ground troops, and he thought about but rejected the idea of using tactical nuclear weapons. okay? back to you. >> was there any effort after stalin died early in the presidency to attempt to reset the relationship? >> yes. >> you mention add two-year interval. >> this is an important moment. stalin, of course, used to talk about the inevitability of conflict with the west, but he dies in early march 1953, as i said at the top of my talk, there's no plan, the cia doesn't know what the hell to do. but ike decides to give a speech. and he gives this heartfelt
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speech, one of his really great speeches, i think, called "a chance for peace," where he uses the famous line for every bomber we build, it's ten schools we don't build. he lays out the cost of all this, and he goes, he says to the soviet union, this would be a good time to get off this train. the problem is within the soviet union, they don't know who's in charge. they're busy dealing with, you know, killing off baarrhea. there's such tumult within the soviet union, basically, nobody's in charge. it takes them two years really, and we don't have any good intelligence on what's going on in the soviet union. the first cia station chief was caught, in moscow, was caught in a honey trap, a kgb set-up with a prostitute. so the cia didn't have anything going there. it was called the deny territory
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in the world war ii lexicon, so we didn't really have good intelligence, and things were chaotic. i don't think there was a deal to be had because there was really sort of nobody on the other side. nonetheless, nonetheless, you know, maybe if we tried a little bit harder, it's one of these what ifs if you can endlessly ponder. i believe there are scholars who believe a missed opportunity in our rigid cold war thinking. john foster dulles was very resistant to negotiation, that's true. sort of those what ifs that sort of lurk out there and may never be resolved. but ike's heart was in this. that speech, tellingly ike is such a cool hand, ike had a stomach that would get upset when he had to give important speeches. he was so sick when he was giving that speech, he was skipping pages. his aides were watching going, oh, my god, there were beads of sweat breaking out on him. he got through it, and it is a
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great speech. it's worth googling and reading. >> evan? >> yeah, susan. >> could you comment on the solarium project in this context? >> yes. one of the great planning exercises of all time and a model for everything that followed was ike coming out of the truman administration had to figure out his strategy. and he put together, you know, he was -- ike was unafraid to put the smartest guys in the room. some presidents don't want to do that. ike welcomed debate. he would jump in himself. and so he organized a methodical process where people offered three options, basically a preemptive strike on the soviet union, a fairly aggressive rollback strategy and something that looked a lot like containment. and they aired these things. and at the end there's a famous quote from george ken nonwho was, of course, the author of "containment" and was running the containment task force, and he had a somewhat condescending screw of general eisenhower as a
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lot of the sort of smart guys did. but he said at the end of this meeting eisenhower, the president stands up and sharply summarizes exactly what they've been talking about for three days, gets right to the heart of the matter, and kennon's going wow, this guy's the smartest guy in the room. but he didn't show his smarts until the very end. what this process produced was this strategy that's called massive retaliation. i mean, the idea was we're going to -- it's all or nothing. we're going to bluff nuclear weapons to avoid getting into small wars and also to save money, and the so-called new look relies heavily on nuclear weapons. and ike -- this takes some guts, cut the hell out of his own service, the army. in fact, ridgeway, the army chief of staff quit, or wasn't reappointed, i guess. but he was angry at ike, as was general taylor, the next army
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chief of staff. he had the guts to take on his own service and really cut back the army because he didn't see a real use for them if he wasn't going to fight conventional wars. how many presidents can do that kind of thing? it amazed me that he was able to control defense spending from 1953 to 1960 when we are building icbms and bomber fleets and all this stuff. and yet the significance of this is it has a big budget impact. because in 1958-'59 military spending is 60, 70% of the whole federal budget. today it's about 20%. people don't realize, defense is where the money was. so if you want to control federal spending and have balanced budgets, you got to control defense spending in the 950s, and ike was able to do that despite tremendous pressure on him to spend more, spend more, spend more. the bomber gap, the missile gap. the democrats were crazy about this. interesting, the democrats wanted to spend more money on defense in the 1950s, and ike
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was a pretty solitary figure in his own quiet way working behind the scenes, basically saying, i mean, not buying the pentagon hype when the generals, i mean, the air force would say we've got to have 87 air wings, i don't remember the precise number. but ike would go, no, we don't, you know? i mean, that's just a number that they kind of arbitrarily pick out, but it takes a pretty strong president to stand up to that kind of pressure. it was all quietly done, but he did. yeah. >> what does eisenhower know about the bay of pigs and dulles' plan into the kennedy administration? >> sure. yep. ike, who did believe in covert operations and did not like castro, did authorize the cia to create an exile army of cuban exiles and to see if they could find an exile government to be ready to take over if the castro government fell. so, yes, involved in the
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planning to that degree. but i am quite sure that eisenhower never would have given his permission to the bay of pigs plan as it was carried out because kennedy, thinking you could have sort of limited wars and be modified about it, removed the air cover of the operation which ike never would have done and moved the landing location to make it hard orer if if -- harder for them to go guerrilla, as they say. and very interestingly, after the bay of pigs failed, president kennedy called president eisenhower and asked him to meet him at camp david. kennedy was totally distraught. he had wept the morning of the failure of the bay of pigs, and eisenhower starts questioning president kennedy, how did you talk to the joint chiefs? how did you talk to the military? killed you really quiz them? -- did you really quiz them? and it becomes clear that kennedy didn't really question the generals, and he was unable to hear what i think was the secret dog whistle which goes
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like this: the pentagon says, it's okay, it's okay. what they mean is it's a cia operation, not our respond. and kennedy, who'd been a lieutenant jg in the navy, what did he know, couldn't hear that. and, unfortunately, thought that the joint chiefs were signing off on the operation when they weren't really. what they were really saying was it's not our responsibility. so there's a very revealing colloquy between kennedy and ike where ike basically says to kennedy, you know, the next time you do this, make sure you really talk to everybody and have a real debate about it. and if you do it, you know, really do can it. because as i said, or he was an all or nothing guy. and kennedy gets that picture. and it's part of the education of john f. kennedy. one thing i like about president kennedy, he was raw, he was green, but he did learn on the job. he was bullied by kruschev in 1961, he had a rough summer in berlin, but he learned.
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and by the time to have cuban missile crisis in 1962, he's a great president. you listen to the tapes, and i have for a book i wrote about bobby kennedy, half of the sessions are taped, president kennedy's great. particularly on the last day, the 13th day when everybody's starting to get a little nervous, you can hear the voices get a little squeaky, president kennedy is cool. and he understands we have to make a deal with the russians. we have to do it secretly, but we have to make a deal with them. and thank god he had a couple of years to learn on the job, because he did in the end handle the crisis well. and some of his education came from president eisenhower. anybody else? thank you very much. [applause] >> visit the author's web site, >> with a month left in 2012,
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many publications are putting together their year-end lists of notable books. booktv will feature several of these lists focusing on nonfiction selections. these titles were included in "time" magazine's top 10 nonfiction books. in "the black count," journalist tom reiss recounts the life of general alex dumas. cheryl strayed explains how her travels changed her life in "wild: from lost to found on the pacific coast trail." in "far from the tree: parents, children and the search for identity," national book award-win withing author andrew sullivan profiles the parents of exceptional children. richard lloyd perry, tokyo bureau chief of the times of london, recounts the disappearance of a british tourist in tokyo, the ensuing investigation and the long trial of the man accused of murdering her in "people who eat darkness:
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the true story of a young woman who vanished from the streets of tokyo and the evil that swallowed her up." in "dearie" bob spitz details the life of julia child. for an extended list of links to various publications' 2012 notable book selections, visit or our facebook page, >> and we want to introduce you to lila quintero weave. she is the author of this book, "darkroom: a memoir in black and white." ms. weaver, first of all, tell us your story before we start in on the book, because it relates so much to the book. >> guest: yes. it's a coming-of-age story primarily about my family's immigration to the united states in 1961. i was 5 years old, and we settled in alabama right in the
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heart of some of the most dramatic events that occurred in the civil rights movement. and one of those occurred in my hometown of marion, alabama. pretty dramatic. >> host: now, where do you live now, first of all? >> guest: i live in tuscaloosa, alabama, which is 60 miles up the road but almost in another, more recent century than my small hometown. >> host: and darkroom is a lot about the civil rights movement and some of the experiences that you had. >> guest: yes. >> host: want to start with your father. what did he do for a living, and what was his experience like? >> guest: my father was a teacher. he had a background also in the ministry, but he was an amateur photographer. he did some freelance work, and that figures centrally in my book, "darkroom." >> host: and i wanted to ask about his ministering, because he'd been assigned to some churches, and you write about that in here. what was his experience?
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>> guest: well, this wasn't, actually, my family ice first immigration period before i was born. so in 1948 my father came to the u.s., and he studied at a seminary in new orleans, and he went around and did some speaking in various places there where he encountered, um, institutionalized segregation even in the church. >> host: and at one point he spoke at a black church. >> guest: ing yes. >> host: and he invited the choir to attend a service of at a white church. >> guest: that's right. >> host: what happened? >> guest: the white church was not happy with that at all, and he not only was the choir ejected and by father and his friend who was a seminary student and also the pastor of that little church of the white church, he was fired. my father's friend. >> host: and your father at some point dropped out of the ministry, correct? >> guest: yes, he did, eventually. >> host: why, because of his experience in alabama? >> guest: no, not necessarily. the family went back to
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argentina. this was during the '50s, and i was born during that time, and he was a pastor there for a period of time and then decided to come back to the u.s., and the opportunity to teach kind of took precedence can over his ministry. >> host: did his exb appearance with segregation shake his faith? >> guest: um, it's possible that it did because during the '60s, especially in 1965 he saw some shocking things where, in the baptist church in my home up to of marion. hometown of marion. there were actually deacons in the vestibule of the church that were armed with chains and guns ready to turn away black worshipers should they show up. that was a stunning experience for him, and he was marked by it. >> host: who is jimmy -- who was jimmy lee jackson?
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who figures in your book. >> guest: yes. jimmy lee jackson was 26 years old and an activist with the voter registration drive in my hometown of marion. and he was shot by a tate trooper on the -- by a state trooper on the night of february 18, 1965, and eight days later he died. and it was his death that spurred the march from selma to montgomery. so most people know about that march, but they don't know that it was jimmy lee jackson's death that brought it about. >> host: i want to show our viewers what the inside of your book looks like here, and it's done in graphic novel form. why? >> guest: yes. yes. i'm the illustrator as well as the author. art is my first love, and so this was the way to tell my story visually not only because of my art background, but also it was a way to incorporate some
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of the images of photography. that motif runs throughout the book. that's why it's called "darkroom." >> host: what do you do today for a living? >> guest: well, i am -- after spending four years writing and illustrating this book, it has over 500 illustrations, i have devoted my time to book tour and to speaking to classrooms, um, university and otherwise, and i'm also beginning a possible second work as a novelist in fiction. so -- >> host: now, when you visit argentina today, are you an argentinean, or are you an american? >> guest: you know, it's a funny thing. down there i do feel somewhat like a foreigner. i don't want speak spanish excellently, fluently and not with an argentine accept, but i
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do love it. the culture is mine. but i guess i feel more american down there, and here i feel maybe more -- especially in alabama, i don't feel as american as i do elsewhere. >> host: why is that? >> guest: um, alabama's a very conservative state, and it's also not diverse. we still have the setup from many decades back when the rest of the country or i should say the east coast, the west coast, other parts of the country were receiving a lot of immigrants, alabama did not have the influx of immigration that other places did. and so we are still, basically, a black and white society with just a few hispanics sprinkled in. >> host: in fact, in "darkroom," hi la quintero weaver, you mention you weren't necessarily discriminated against or your family wasn't because they didn't have any terms for
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latinos or spanish-speaking people. >> guest: that's right. that's right, we were just oddballs. we were more or less objects of curiosity. now there are more hispanics in the region and, unfortunately, there is also more xenophobia as a result of that. [inaudible] >> guest: yes. alabama has instituted one of the harshest immigration laws in the united states. very similar to arizona's. >> host: you have a chapter in here about some young girls when school cans were first integrated. who were those girls? >> guest: um, are you speaking of the young african-american girls? >> host: yes, uh-huh. >> guest: well, the public schools in my, in my area were integrated in two steps. the first step was, um, the freedom of choice era can is what they called it when parents had the opportunity to send tear children to white -- their
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children to white schools if they wanted to. so my first black schoolmate was just one girl who was very shy, painfully shy, and then that was when i was in the fifth grade. then when i was in the eighth grade, the public schools were fully deselling ree gated, and that's when the races really began to mix in a way that had not been possible before in that area. >> host: where do your children go to school? >> guest: well, my children are grown now. i have, um, my youngest daughter is finishing up her degree at t the university of alabama. and, of course, they grew up in fully desegregated schools. so they had a completely different experience. >> host: is it different today, in your view, in alabama? when you talk to your kids about your experience, do they think that's very foreign to what they know? >> guest: it is different, yet there is enough, i believe, of that, um, sentiment that
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survives that they can easily believe that it was as bad as it was. they can, they can look back through the reps of their current experience -- through the lens of their current experience with seeing racism around them, and is i'm not saying it just exists in the south. i know better than that, i know it exists everywhere. but, yes, you can still see signs of it. >> host: you have excerpted in your book "no alabama." talk about this, if you would. >> guest: no alabama was my fourth grade alabama history textbook. and i remember, so i was in the fourth grade, i guess i was about 9 or 10 years old, and i remember it being shocking to me the way that they portrayed the civil war and the antebellum period, especially slavery. and when i was fully adult one time, i came upon that book
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again in the reference section of the children's section of my public library in tuscaloosa, and i was stunned all over again to see how, all, racist the language is and how apologist it is for the institution of slavery. gls and this is reading from "no alabama." the negro cook, whom you call ma'ammy, comes in bringing a great tray of food. you have known her all your life and love her very much. >> guest: yes. >> host: here is the book. it's called "darkroom: a memoir in black and white." lila quintero weaver is the author, university of alabama is the publisher. one other thing i wallet today ask you is -- i wanted to ask you is you write in here you were surprised to see african-americans when you first arrived in alabama from argentine ya. >> guest: yes. because argentine ya is -- i will say buenos ire race where i
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was born and lived only the first five years of my life, it is a culture composed of europeans primarily. there are indigenous people in argentina, and they mostly at that time lived away from the city, so we didn't really encounter african-americans. and even to this day there are very few african, people of african descent in argentine ya. >> host: lila quintero -- >> psychiatry to -- visit to watch any of the programs you see here. type the title on the upper left side of the page, and click search. you can also share anything you see on easily by clicking share on the upper left side of the page and selecting the format. booktv streams live online for 48 hours every weekend with top nonfiction books and authors. >> up next on booktv,


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